Enter stage left the Socialist Workers Party.
The Indy has the details, and the Daily Mail stuck it on their front page. If you haven't the foggiest what I'm on about, see this article from the latest Socialist Worker.
Charming. The SWP's stock can't get much lower, what with their depravity and weird, cult-like sex games but this little statement - almost an aside - shows rehabilitation in front of the labour movement doesn't feature on their horizon of immediate objectives.
Their making light of Horatio Chapple's death, however, is out of character. Socialist Worker fancies itself as a hard left Indy or Graun. Tastelessness is usually the preserve of Class War (the difference being, of course, that Class War was funny). Typically SW's pieces are couched in do-gooding tones. It's bleeding heart stuff, of a well-to-do someone explaining to the hoi polloi why capitalism is nasty and Tories are bad. In at least two cases that is precisely what's happening. Step forward Charlie Kimber, national secretary and alleged banking dynasty scion and Old Etonian. Pairing Charlie is Alexander Theodore Callinicos, great grandson of the 1st Lord Acton and son of the Hon. Aedgyth Bertha Frances Lyon-Dalberg-Acton. Yes, it's cheap to make something of their aristocratic backgrounds. Yet when SW does so over the tragic and quite horrifying death of an apolitical teenager, that's perfectly okay.
The function of a revolutionary newspaper, as Lenin put it, was to act as a scaffolding around which the party is built. Oh, how many times I've heard that metaphor used and abused down the years. Going by the primitive and distinctly Web 1.0 approach of nearly all self-described vanguard websites, the paper remains the preferred party media of choice by members and little Lenins alike - mainly because it keeps activists fruitlessly sprinting on the revolutionary treadmill. The real function of the paper, to which all members are expected to subscribe and read, is about cohering the organisation, of offering a drip feed of analysis and opinion that works both as a currency within the SWP's internal life and inoculation against the views of outsiders. It's also about the creation of necessary fictions, of marking past swappie glories and pretending its depleted ranks are making a difference now. It's right because it's right because it's right.
It's also the primary site of the SWP's revolutionary performance. Anyone who's had some experience with them know about their propensity to be really annoying. Yet, I can't help but read this performance as identity work. Whether its "spontaneously" trying to get through police lines to the EDL or agitating for never-will-happen general strikes, in thought and deed it has to look the piece with as little cost as possible. Revolutionary organisations, after all, are supposed to do revolutionary things. The paper, of course, is the record of its activity, a sort of deferred stage for readers to know what some activists have got up to. In this context then, it's mildly surprising the ra-ra-revolutionism hasn't resulted in more cheap, vacuous but ostensibly radical sneers like the above. Then again, as it's the bourgeois press they've upset they might smugly feel they're doing the right thing. These are supposed to be the people who hate and despise the SWP, and at next to no cost the party has been positioned as anti-establishment oiks to millions of readers more likely to think SWP is a synonym for safe working practices.
Don't be entirely shocked if, after today, the SWP resorts to similar trolling in the future. When they do so, each time recalls them as a toxic party as deficient in moral sense as it is of political nous.